Improve Artemis with communication and navigation interoperability


Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

With Artemis, NASA will establish a long-term presence on the Moon, allowing more exploration of the Moon than ever before. This growth in lunar activity requires new, more robust communication, navigation and networking capabilities. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program has developed the LunaNet architecture to meet these needs.

LunaNet leverages innovative network technologies, standards and scalable frameworks to rapidly expand Moon’s network capabilities. This framework enables industry, universities and international partners to create and operate LunaNet nodes with NASA. These nodes provide four different services to missions: networking, navigation, detection and information, and wireless / optical science services.


Normally, when a mission is launched into space, communication with Earth relies on preprogrammed links using either space relays or terrestrial antennas. Relying on pre-programmed links can limit communication opportunities and efficiency, as several missions head to the moon. LunaNet offers a network approach similar to the Internet on Earth. With this approach, users remain connected to larger networks and do not need to plan for data transfers in advance.

LunaNet’s core network structure is Delay Tolerance Networking (DTN), which ensures that data flows seamlessly through the network and reaches its final destination despite potential signal interruptions. In the event of a failure between two LunaNet nodes, DTN allows the node to store data until the path is free.


For lunar navigation, the LunaNet approach offers operational independence from data processing on Earth while maintaining high accuracy. This architecture allows the mission to access the key measurements needed to operate the onboard orbit and guidance system, or to position the surface. Missions that use the LunaNet navigation service have everything you need for autonomous navigation on the moon.

“LunaNet offers a new paradigm of Earth-independent navigation, allowing crew and robot missions to quickly and accurately determine their locations and transfer them to planning systems,” said Mission Engineering and Cheryl Gramling, chief systems analysis technology associate. To divide.

A video presentation of LunaNet. Credit: NASA / Reese Patillo

Detection and information

LunaNet Discovery and Information Services provides users with alerts and other important information. This and similar features greatly improve situational awareness of astronauts, rover, and other assets. surface of the moon.

As an example, LunaNet directly alerts users using space weather meters that detect potentially dangerous solar activity, rather than waiting for instructions from network administrators on Earth. These alerts are similar to what humans receive on their smartphones due to dangerous weather conditions.

LunaNet’s detection and information services also include the lunar search and rescue function, LunaSAR. LunaSAR draws on the expertise of NASA’s Search and Rescue Office, which has long developed technology for ground search and rescue.

“The safety and well-being of astronauts are important concerns of the Artemis program,” said Cody Kelly, head of mission for the National Search and Rescue Office. “Using LunaNet’s navigation services, LunaSAR provides location data to the NASA emergency beacon in the event of an unforeseen event.”

Scientific services

LunaNet Scientific Services offers nodes the ability to perform measurements for the benefit of researchers on Earth using wireless optical and infrared communication links. The network of nodes can provide basic observations of the Moon, frequent measurement opportunities that provide a comprehensive study of the Moon’s environment over time. In addition, the placement of the nodes allows regional or global observations of the Moon, giving scientists access to large spatial scale Moon data.

LunaNet antennas can also be used in applications such as radio astronomy. In radio astronomy, an antenna looks deep into the universe and searches for radio radiation from distant celestial bodies. These features provide scientists with a new platform to test new theories in space science and advance their scientific knowledge.

Conceptual graphic LunaNet DTN. Credit: NASA / Reese Patillo

Lunanet interoperability specifications

Last month, the LunaNet team released a draft interoperability specification as a starting point for technical discussions between industry experts and governments around the world. The goal is a set of standards that allow an open and scalable collaborative monthly communication and navigation architecture.

“Artemis is a collaborative effort that draws on universities, civil aerospace companies and the international community, and LunaNet is no exception,” said Jaime Esper, who led the development of the proposed interoperability specification. “Together, we want to define a robust architecture that can meet user missions and the broadest possible needs and demands of service providers. ”

Lunanet background

LunaNet is a cross-functional team of networking, navigation, systems science and engineering experts based on previous NASA and international activities at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I started this life. On this basis, experts from all government agencies met to improve the proposal and develop a draft interoperability standard. LunaNet is currently derived from the Office of the Space Communications and Navigation Program (SCaN).

“LunaNet is NASA’s communication navigation” The entire scientific exploration team and community is improving its cutting-edge approach to meeting the needs of lunar missions over the next several decades, “said Dave Israel, Goddard’s communications architect.

NASA engineers analyze navigation needs for Artemis lunar missions

Provided by
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Quote: LunaNet: Enhanced Artemis with Communication and Navigation Interoperability (October 7, 2021), https: // 2021 Obtained October 7.

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